Trypanosomal TAC40 constitutes a novel subclass of mitochondrial β-barrel proteins specialized in mitochondrial genome inheritance

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 27;111(21):7624-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404854111. Epub 2014 May 12.


Mitochondria cannot form de novo but require mechanisms allowing their inheritance to daughter cells. In contrast to most other eukaryotes Trypanosoma brucei has a single mitochondrion whose single-unit genome is physically connected to the flagellum. Here we identify a β-barrel mitochondrial outer membrane protein, termed tripartite attachment complex 40 (TAC40), that localizes to this connection. TAC40 is essential for mitochondrial DNA inheritance and belongs to the mitochondrial porin protein family. However, it is not specifically related to any of the three subclasses of mitochondrial porins represented by the metabolite transporter voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC), the protein translocator of the outer membrane 40 (TOM40), or the fungi-specific MDM10, a component of the endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria encounter structure (ERMES). MDM10 and TAC40 mediate cellular architecture and participate in transmembrane complexes that are essential for mitochondrial DNA inheritance. In yeast MDM10, in the context of the ERMES, is postulated to connect the mitochondrial genomes to actin filaments, whereas in trypanosomes TAC40 mediates the linkage of the mitochondrial DNA to the basal body of the flagellum. However, TAC40 does not colocalize with trypanosomal orthologs of ERMES components and, unlike MDM10, it regulates neither mitochondrial morphology nor the assembly of the protein translocase. TAC40 therefore defines a novel subclass of mitochondrial porins that is distinct from VDAC, TOM40, and MDM10. However, whereas the architecture of the TAC40-containing complex in trypanosomes and the MDM10-containing ERMES in yeast is very different, both are organized around a β-barrel protein of the mitochondrial porin family that mediates a DNA-cytoskeleton linkage that is essential for mitochondrial DNA inheritance.

Keywords: organelle; parasitic protozoa.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / metabolism
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Genes, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Mitochondrial Membranes / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Organisms, Genetically Modified
  • Phylogeny
  • Porins / genetics*
  • Protozoan Proteins / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Sequence Homology
  • Trypanosoma brucei brucei / genetics*


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Porins
  • Protozoan Proteins